The 52 Project: What I Learned

Week 42 of 52
Week 50 of 52

The 52 Project was a challenge to take a portrait of my boys once a week every week in 2015. Whew! What an undertaking! I recently finalized the project and I am here to tell you that it ended up being just as big of an undertaking as I thought it would. At no point did I think to myself "my, this is a simple memory keeping process." I learned a few things in the process:

  1. Set up a weekly processing time. I should have established a method for weekly picture selection and editing. I thought a blog post would be incentive enough to keep me on track but as soon as I fell behind, I had little motivation to catch up. I would have had more success had I scheduled a set time each week.
  2. Take pictures with portraits in mind. I intended to use this as an exercise developing my portrait photography. In reality, I scanned the images I shot throughout the week and picked my favorite. As a result, I do not think my portraiture or photographic eye developed much as a result of this project.
  3. Learn your photography style. I am not sure if that is even a legitimate term but what I mean is that I prefer images that capture bits of the subject's character. Some weeks I selected pictures that were just good, clear photographs. But my favorite images from the year- the ones I want to blow up and hang in frames throughout our home- are the ones where August and Boston's character is oozing through. -- August, bent in concentration stirring a puddle with a yellow leaf. Boston, determined to sleep through company with his jaw set tight and his head cocked up. -- This realization about my photographic style might have made the whole effort worth it. 
In hindsight, I realize that I should not have tried to take on this project the year we added a baby to the family. That was HARD. In addition to our regular family memory keeping practices, Brandon and I already have a rigorous "first year of baby" documenting process. I've shared a bit about my process here. Brandon makes seasonal short films of the boys in order to compile one long movie highlighting the first year of life. Adding a weekly portrait goal was a bit overwhelming. I am not sure what I am going to do with the pictures. Our family albums are already brimful of pictures and memories. Perhaps I will use these pictures as a sort of highlights reel photobook of its own. 

I may try this again in a few years but I do not think this is going to be a central element to our memory keeping framework. That is what I love about memory keeping though- you can easily try new elements and drop old ones that do not work. In 2014, I took a monthly photo of our family of three. In 2015, I took weekly individual portraits of our sons. In 2016, I am going to take monthly portraits of our boys. My aim in the photos is to capture their relationship dynamic. 

What are your memory keeping goals for 2016? Are you trying a new practice? I would love to hear.

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